Museology Master of Arts Program

May 25, 2018

AAM Excellence in Exhibition Label Writing Competition – 2018

Catherine Wood, Class of 2018

This year I was fortunate to be the sixth student Project Manager for the American Alliance of Museums’ (AAM) Excellence in Exhibition Label Writing Competition. Through this unique partnership I’ve gained practical project management skills, networked with leading museum professionals, and increased my appreciation for exhibit label writing. I knew even before coming to the University of Washington that I wanted to take on the Project Manager role. I first learned about UW’s Museology program through the Label Writing Competition. While reading through the Competition’s winners several years ago in AAM’s magazine, I saw that it was managed by a student from the Museology Program. I remember thinking how great it would be to work so closely with AAM as a student.

AAM Label Writing 2018_1Serving as the Project Manager involved a lot of work throughout the year: coordinating with jurors and AAM staff throughout the United States, answering submitters’ questions, and most of all, preparing all of the labels for the jurors to review (the final document was 265 pages long!). Through this process, I gained valuable project management skills that will be useful in any job that I have after graduation.

Another highlight came at the AAM Annual Conference in Phoenix, AZ, when the 2018 winners were presented at the Marketplace of Ideas, a space set aside to showcase exemplary programs and projects, collaborate with colleagues in their specific disciplines, and build relationships across disciplines. Seeing all of the work that the jurors, AAM staff and volunteers, and I had put into the competition pay off was incredibly rewarding. I loved having the chance to discuss the winning labels with highly-respected museum professionals, which also presented great networking opportunities.

AAM Label Writing 2018_2My personal favorite moments came when some of the people who had written or edited the winning labels came to see their work on display at the Marketplace of Ideas. Some of them were new to the field or had never submitted labels to the competition before. They were excited to have their writing recognized as “excellent” and were enthusiastic about sharing further insight into their writing process with other conference attendees. Knowing that the work I contributed to the Competition helped make that recognition possible felt amazing.

I’m excited for the partnership between AAM and the Museology Graduate Program to continue, and I look forward to seeing all of the Label Writing Competition winners at AAM conferences in the future.